The Reader (2008)

The Reader (2008)

2008 R 124 Minutes

Drama | Romance

The story of Michael Berg, a German lawyer who, as a teenager in the late 1950s, had an affair with an older woman, Hanna, who then disappeared only to resurface years later as one of the defendant...

Overall Rating

8 / 10
Verdict: Good

User Review

  • The Reader is a perfectly constructed drama that feels extremely understated. This is an interesting one. Often regarded as an "Oscar-bait" film due to its subject matter and focus on acting. I never believe this term to be a detriment, in fact it evidently shows here because I thoroughly enjoyed this. A young boy has an affair with an older woman during one summer, she disappears after a promotion which is soon revealed to be a guard at a concentration camp. I shan't say too much in regards to the story, but this is very much what I call a "story film". We have a beginning, middle and end which are suitably implemented into a straightforward accessible narrative. Evoking themes of love, truth and reconciliation, I found this to be an endearing and sentimental story without the need of overacting and melodrama. I find that Kate Winslet often overacts, to a point where I dislike her. However, here she gives undoubtedly her best performance. Why? Because it's nuanced. No massive outbursts, no overly animated scenes. It's just her talking and taking control of every scene. Her subtlety and fragility is what captivated me. The character she portrays is shrouded in mystery and is psychologically intriguing, particularly as it is revealed she is unable to do a certain thing which all of us take for granted (I shan't say). Whereas David Kross and Ralph Fiennes' character, both may I just say were extremely competent, brings the heart and soul of the story. Love is a powerful emotion, one that cannot be fabricated or falsified. Ultimately, I believed in the relationship between these characters despite the events that take place. Loved the musical score as well, suited the film brilliantly. I did find the ending was slightly underwhelming, I would've liked it to be more impactful. Certain scenes did drag on however the pacing overall was fine. There is a lot of nudity, no idea why but the two main characters are always naked. Literally. The Reader might be too safe in its subject, but you cannot deny it's still a captivating watch and adequately moody.